The Photo.Impenetrable Doors. Joanna's Page 3
The Photo. Joanna's Page 3
Before her there was a cold window glass, a turbid and whitish one, behind which something white and incomprehensible moved. Three-year-old Yana was very interested to know what outside is. She climbed up to the windowsill with her feet and was all eyes. At last she guessed to brush the misted glass by her palm and saw a patch of sky inhabited by strange white creatures.
That other adult Joanna knew that it was snow and that she was in her early childhood. Joanna remembered hateful different-eyed Mercedes and Yegorka rushing to the airport. But three-year-old Yana with her full ignorance, Yana for whom nothing exists now except mysterious creatures, this Yana is much more real. She absorbed adult Joanna like a river absorbed a stream, and a stream flowed now according to all laws of a river and dissolved in a river, remaining a stream at the same time and being a Source, an essence and a beginning of a river.
Some force picked her under her arms from behind and lowered her from the windowsill to the floor. Yana was crying. Her tears flowed into her nose, behind her ears and neck.
'Sonya, she cries again. Don't prevent me from working.'
She almost couldn't remember her father. He was always sitting over his dissertation when he was at home; mommy and Yana didn't prevent him from working. He would never defend his dissertation but in a year go to war and never return.
She wanted to turn round and have a look at his face.
But little Yana wasn't going to turn round; she wept trying to reach the windowsill. She wept over an undiscovered wonder that was taken away from her.
Yana again shot up to the windowsill. Oh Lord, it was mammy and her amazing smell. In this smell there were kissel, milk porridge, nappies, flower soap and mommy's perfume. Growing older, she didn't change her perfume (Spring Stars or Spring Dreams), and when it disappeared from sale she stopped using perfumes at all.
But now mommy's silk dressing gown smelled "Stars" and has a hundred more other smells of mommy and her warmth too.
"What have you seen there? It's snowing. The snow is cold. If you heat it, it will melt and there will be water. You can sled on it. When you recover..."
Out of the corner of her eye Joanna saw a young mammy's profile and tried to turn her head to her, but... That other Yana was preoccupied with snow only. By her weeping she managed to obtain impossible things: wrapping her up in a kerchief mommy allowed her to stretch out her hand through the ventlight and feel a tickling icy touch on her skin. Yana disappointedly viewed his wet empty palm.
"Here it is, here! Look."
On her sleeve there is was tiny white wonder. A snowflake of this last prewar winter; it was the first snow in her memory.
Where was she, in which dimension? It looked as if she were double. First Yana was surprised at a snowflake and second Joanna was surprised at her tiny palm. But she repeated what she did then. She had no freedom of will. She managed to turn round. Perhaps, that time she also turned round. She could see her father sitting at his desk, his table-lamp under a green glass lampshade that served to her as a flowerbed when she played and a black loudspeaker over his head. The desk stood in a black corner and the table-lamp lighted even in the daytime. She liked to have a good look at her father but he was out of focus. Mommy didn't go into a focus too. She went to the kitchen, and Joanna even felt a smell of fried fish... but she was not allowed to go there. She couldn't remember what was next; her eyes couldn't focus, and the room became blurred and disappeared. And quite other things appeared around her. Yana was several months old. She wouldn't like to recall it but nothing depended on her now.
Yana sat in an easy chair like a Turkish pasha, being all surrounded by plush pillows. On her knees she had a teddy bear, in her hand she had a bar of chocolate and in her hair she had a huge bow.
But the most interesting things were before her: a mysterious box with a pipe, a mysterious man bending to the box. The man and the box were black; only a hairy hand was seen. But this hand was also unusual; Punch in a red cap with a tuft bowed down and made faces.
And all of that was for her, only for her. Little Yana sank in delight, laughed and even squealed from happiness.
"We would like to photograph her crying; she has such a funny face when she cries."
"I'm at your service, lady, let her cry."
"Well, her eyes are always wet. Yana, see, Punch has fallen ill; he has a headache; look, he is crying. Play up, comrade Photographer!"
Punch hung his head, seized it with his hands but still grinned from ear to ear, and it was obvious that nothing ailed him; he only pretended to be ill. Yana loudly laughed. The photographer shrugged his shoulders.
"Yana, I'm going away forever. I'm leaving you alone here. Look, I have left."
Of course, mommy also pretended. The world for three-year-old Yana was fair and unshakable, and this world was her mammy; she was its base and embodiment. Mammy hid herself behind the door, but Yana even didn't look at her side. Punch had recovered; he hadn't a headache any more. Everybody only played with her; now mommy was coming back. Yana was loudly laughing. Her mammy came back.
"Dear lady, will you baby cry? You are delaying my work. The queue is waiting."
Mommy went to Yana; her face was strange and unlike. Don't do that, mammy. Why do you need those photos of crying Jana; they will be distributed among relatives and acquaintances and be lost; and only one of them will be left, that one, which is in the beer cardboard can together with other photos. In her childhood she took a pencil and angrily covered that photo with lines and even now didn't like to look at it. Don't do that, mammy. Our relations may change, and I may grow to be a different person. Don't do that...
Yana's arm turned a little pink. Mammy slapped her not very painfully but she did it seriously. She slapped her FOR NOTHING. At first moment Yana refused to believe in what had happened. She was looking at her arm and at mommy hoping that it was a mistake, that mommy would explain and correct everything.
But mommy removed her eyes. The world was collapsing. A lump in her throat because of bitterness and offence kept her from breathing, and at last Yana pushed it out by her cry. She burst out weeping so awfully that other children immediately began to echo her.
The photographer took snaps as soon as possible and waved his hands.
"Get away, lady, I will serve you without a receipt. You will frighten away all my clients; they may think that we are killing somebody."
Mommy kissed her with passion and guilty look and said tender words to her; she gave her a bribe - a red doll with goggled glass eyes helped to solve this problem little by little. Yana calmed down and only from time to time sobbed. In her life her world would collapse many times but little Yana didn't know it yet. Yana didn't know that in a tram where mommy stood and she sat, silently telling her goggle-eyed doll about her offence, she complained to herself for the first time.
The train rushed into a tunnel, moved more and more slowly and finally stopped in complete darkness. Terror-struck Yana realized that she it was again in a tambour between impenetrable doors where there was nothing except that darkness, silence and icy fear. And the girl Yana sat down on the floor trembling and choking with soundless tears and knowing that this captivity would last forever.
Then they had just returned from an evacuation zone, and at home there were mess ant bustle, and Yana was allowed to walk outside. She forgot the time in playing with children, and then it suddenly became dark, everybody was called home, and the yard became deserted. Being still delighted with reality (it happens in childhood only), Yana with squeal, laughter, run, knock of a ball rushed into a door with rhombuses. The door heavily slammed behind her and...
Being dazzled with sudden silence and darkness Yana instinctively made several steps; her palms ran against the wall and then against something cold, disgustingly slippery and wet. Saying "oh" Yana sprung back and began to wipe her hand by her coat and look around helplessly, hoping to discern a door, that inside one which leaded to the corridor and the stairway where on the first floor her and her mother's room was, or at least that outside door into which she has just jumped.
But there was nothing. No doors and nothing at all. It seemed to her that she had neither eyes, nor ears and nor body; it was so dark and quiet, that she became numb with fear. There was nothing except complete darkness, silence and icy fear. She was even afraid to cry, so that some extremely terrible and malicious creature, which captured her, couldn't discover her presence. By an animal intuition she felt it sharpening its claws against walls and going through them by its hairy tentacles in order to grab her. How much time was she standing like that? Five, ten or fifteen minutes? Then she sat down on a cold floor because her feet didn't keep her; she trembled and choked with soundless tears, knowing that it would always be so.
Then she heard somebody's quick approaching steps in the darkness, found strengths to jump on, squeaked like a mouse in dead anguish, losing her consciousness, and then a scratch, illusory yellowness and lamps over the stairway penetrated from a side. It was be a miracle but mommy's silhouette and her stretched out hands appeared in this yellowness. And something that was left of Yana fell on her arms with loud crying.
Later she greatly feared of this dark tambour between two doors for a very long time and trid to pass it as soon as possible even in the daytime when light from outside penetrated into a small window. But in the evenings without adults she never went there.
Boys found out about this nonsense of hers and had fun dragging a desperately squealing and beating off girl into a horrible captivity. Later she bit through someone's hand till it bled and was left alone. She called it "impenetrable doors", and even when in the tambour a lamp was hung and handles were screwed on the doors her fear remained and gradually moved to her nightmares where she died of anguish and feared in a black impenetrable snare between doors-worlds: the outside one and the saving inside one from where the stairway led home to light and warmth, and where she ran away every time after escaping with rapidly beating heart in order to fall on stretched out mommy's arms and save herself.
Little by little mommy disappeared from her dreams together with her room. Behind their door there would be one more corridors and more doors, a labyrinth of doors and corridors, through which she ran away from pursuing darkness, gathering her last strength. She found salvation only in awakenings.